by Rex Wockner
Californians may be voting on gay matters again.
This time the target is the law Gov. Jerry Brown signed July 14 that requires public schools to teach about LGBT people’s contributions to the state and nation.
Anti-gay activists have submitted the paperwork to launch a voter repeal referendum and have hit the Web with http://www.StopSB48.com. Its slogan: “Stop SB 48. It costs too much. It goes too far.”
Their next task will be to collect signatures from 504,760 registered California voters before mid-October.
“It’s disheartening but not surprising,” said Equality California Executive Director Roland Palencia. “When we set out to ensure that California students learn fair and accurate information about the rich and diverse history of LGBT people and people with disabilities as well as their contributions to society, we knew we’d face opposition.”
EQCA is seeking donations of $48 (the law was Senate Bill 48) to begin ramping up to fight the possible referendum.
“As with Proposition 8, opponents of equality are ready to amass a huge financial war chest to misrepresent the law, spread more lies about LGBT people and turn back the clock on equality,” Palencia said. “To win, we’ll have to match them dollar for dollar and educate the public about the importance of the FAIR Education Act.”
Should the referendum make it to the ballot, it could be one of two gay-related initiatives. California LGBT activists still have not made a final decision on whether to return to the ballot next year in an attempt to undo Proposition 8 – the voter-passed state constitutional amendment that re-banned same-sex marriage in 2008.
Prop 8 was later struck down as unconstitutional by a federal court but has remained in force throughout numerous twists and turns in a prolonged appeal of the decision. At the moment, at least three matters are unresolved:
-The appeal of the main ruling that struck down Prop 8.
-Pending decisions from both the California Supreme Court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether the people who appealed had a right to appeal. (California state officials refused to defend Prop 8, so the sponsors of the ballot measure appealed the ruling that struck it down.)
-A pending determination by the 9th Circuit on whether the entire lower-court ruling should be tossed out because the judge who issued it is in a same-sex relationship and, supposedly, could have had a desire to get married himself at the moment he issued the decision.
This final issue is unlikely to go anywhere. But the question of whether the ballot-measure sponsors have legal “standing” to appeal is a real one. If they don’t, then there will be no appeal and the ruling that struck down Prop 8 will take effect.
Should the appeal proceed on the actual merits of the decision, it would be heard first by the 9th Circuit and then likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could uphold Prop 8, strike it down in a way that applies only to California, or strike it down in a way that legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide.